I am obsessed with all things fall.
And that, of course, is because I live in the Arizona desert where hotter than hot summers are forever long. While the rest of the country and my beloved Germany has been enjoying “crisp fall mornings” and “cozy sweaters and scarves weather” for the last few weeks, I’m still rocking the same old shorts and flip flops combo I have been since the middle of April. Sigh! And despite the fact that people (and by people I mean my native Arizonan husband who gets tired of my complaining) continually try to convince me that the weather is “really supposed to cool down next week,” it actually never happens until Halloween. Never. Ever. October 31 is the magic date and not a day sooner. So stop fooling me, husband (and local news weather people) – I know your tricks!
What’s a girl to do in the meantime? I live vicariously through other people’s social media posts and try my best to ignore the local temperature by bringing some fall flavors into the kitchen. My latest creation: An autumn salad featuring oven roasted butternut squash, pomegranate arils and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Fall lovers rejoice!
For the salad:
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 5 cups baby kale, packed
- Arils from 2 pomegranates
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled off
- 1/4 cup goat cheese or feta, crumbled (optional)
- 1/4 cup raw pecans, finely chopped
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, no salt added if available
- 1 tablespoon raw organic honey or pure maple syrup
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- Toss the butternut squash in the coconut oil and season with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Spread it out in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then flip and bake for another 15 minutes until the squash is fork tender. Set aside and let cool.
- Put the kale, pomegranate arils, pecans, quinoa and optional cheese in a large serving bowl. Add the butternut squash and gently mix until everything is thoroughly combined.
- Put all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.
- Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of squash and probably would not have bought one at the store just to create a recipe. However, when I got one in my last weekly produce bag (along with some pomegranates) I really wanted utilize it in a way that the whole family would enjoy. Turns out, baking the squash in coconut oil and adding cinnamon and nutmeg gives it a nice creamy texture and sweet flavor which is a perfect contrast to the crunchy and tart pomegranate arils.
- By the way, how do you get those little suckers out of the pomegranate? With a large knife, score each pomegranate around the perimeter of the fruit without cutting into the seeds and pry the two halves open. Place one half at a time in your palm with the seeds side facing down and over a mixing bowl. While rotating it in your hand, tap the pomegranate with a spoon until all the seeds have fallen out. Repeat with the second half.
- Why do I always put quinoa in my salads? I don’t know about you but one of my biggest pet peeves is to pay $18.00 for a dinner salad at a restaurant that basically consists of lettuce and more lettuce. So, I really like to “beef” up my salads and quinoa is such an easy and delicious way to add more nutrients and sustenance. If you prefer, you can leave out the quinoa and, say, serve this as a fancy side salad during the holiday season. Just an idea…